I'm twenty-six years old and currently the sous chef at a local fine dining/seafood joint. I feel like I've hit a brick wall. There is no room for growth anymore, but I love this job. However, I need to progress constantly to fill the void of getting bored too quickly.
The idea of opening my own small restaurant has been tossed around for over a year now. I have someone interested in backing me and only wants to be a silent partner..more or less..they just want to make their money and not have to deal with the daily operations (dream come true, right?) This seemed to be my only valuable option as there is no more room for growth and I have very little input, other than training and ordering.
I have been offered a head chef job at another local restaurant, but I like to cook food and write a menu I can be proud of. So, cooking food that's primarily outsourced from Sysco and other food purveyors doesn't really appeal to me. I want to support local fisherman, butchers, and farmers to the best of my ability. I want to write my own menu and order my products...doing something different in this area. However, I want to do so without coming off extremely pretentious and arrogant. I'm very good at what I do. I'm also very humble and ego free at the same time. I feel like taking a leap into my own place could be my opportunity without having to push my ideals on another business that wants things done their way.
I gained a lot of experience in ordering, inventory, costs and scheduling just as a line cook at a previous job. Our "chef" had to take an extended leave of absence. His leaving couldn't have come at a better time because our food costs were high as hell due to him ordering all these "fun" products to play with that would just go to waste. He just wanted to learn and experience on someone else's dime. In his absence, I managed to knock down his ridiculous 48% food cost down to 31% by streamlining products for the new menu and eliminating excess spending before taking this current job. I helped knock down the labor costs as well. So, I feel that I can succeed in sustaining the kitchen costs with minimal issues. Now, running the rest of the business is where I feel like I may run into my issues.
Just because I can run a kitchen well does not make me a restaurant expert. I have no illusions. I'm almost clueless about FOH operations, except for a year of bartending experience. Am I biting off more than I can chew? Or can I adopt the same principles I used for stabilizing a kitchen for the front of the house, etc...?
Any and all criticism and advice is welcomed...especially from chefs who do own their own businesses as well.